The Funeral Director: Code of Practice ('the Code') applies to all funeral directors carrying out the activities of a funeral director in Scotland, regardless of where their business is based.
The Code has been developed using the knowledge and expertise of members of the funeral profession and is based on the guiding principles of responsible practice. The desired outcome from implementing the Code is that every person in Scotland has a dignified and respectful funeral, and bereaved families can be reassured that good standards of care will be provided.
The Code requires funeral directors to adhere to good standards of care of the deceased and to provide transparency in the goods and services offered to the bereaved.
The Code has been issued by Scottish Ministers by virtue of the powers set out in section 97 of the Burial and Cremation (Scotland) Act 2016 and is organised into the following sections:
1. Engagement of a funeral director and transfer of the deceased.
2. Care of the deceased and the premises used by the funeral director.
3. Planning of the funeral service according to the wishes of the deceased and bereaved persons.
4. Delivery of the funeral.
6. Business continuity and managing risks.
Definition of a Funeral Director
For the purposes of the Code a funeral director is defined as:
A person whose business consists of, or includes the arrangement and conduct of funerals.
This definition is set out at section 31 of the Certification of Death (Scotland) Act 2011 which replicates that in section 62 of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 (as amended by the Police, Public Order and Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2006).
The Code of Practice will be issued by Scottish Ministers and approved by resolution of the Scottish Parliament.
Scottish Ministers have issued the Code by virtue of the powers set out in section 97 of the Burial and Cremation (Scotland) Act 2016:
Section 97 Funeral Director Code of Practice
(1) A funeral director must comply with any Code of Practice issued by the Scottish Ministers about the carrying out of a funeral director's functions (a "funeral director's code").
(2) Before issuing any funeral director's Code, the Scottish Ministers must consult –
(a) persons appearing to the Scottish Ministers to be representative of the interests of funeral directors in Scotland, and
(b) other persons appearing to the Scottish Ministers to have an interest.
(3) After taking account of any representations received by them by virtue of subsection (2), the Scottish Ministers must lay a draft of the funeral director's Code before the Scottish Parliament.
(4) The Scottish Ministers may not issue a funeral director's Code unless a draft of the Code is approved by resolution of the Scottish Parliament.
(5) The Scottish Ministers must publish a funeral director's Code in such a manner as they consider appropriate.
(6) The Scottish Ministers must keep under review a funeral director's Code.
(7) In this section, references to a funeral director's code include references to a funeral director's Code as revised from time to time by the Scottish
The Burial and Cremation (Scotland) Act 2016 was passed by the Scottish Parliament in March 2016 and provides the statutory framework to issue the Code and to appoint Inspectors of Funeral Directors. The Act also makes provision for Scottish Ministers to introduce a licencing scheme for funeral directors' businesses.
The Code aims to achieve the following outcomes:
- Increase transparency of choice of goods and services to help customers make informed decisions.
- Ensure good standards of care in relation to care of the deceased.
- Create and promote a common understanding of good practice in relation to care of the deceased.
Accountability and compliance
The Code applies to all funeral directors carrying out the activities of a funeral director in Scotland, regardless of where their business is based.
The Code does not negate the responsibility of the funeral director to adhere to and take account of other legislation and guidance. It is the responsibility of each funeral director to ensure that they are operating in accordance with all relevant legislation.
The Scottish Government and inspectors will:
- Work collaboratively with funeral directors in the administration of the Code.
- Periodically review the Code in consultation with funeral directors and the representative trade associations and make any necessary changes in line with the changing needs of the profession.
- Carry out inspections against the standards set out in the Code.
- Investigate and address serious or significant complaints.
- Take enforcement action in respect of the Code.
Inspectors must not be obstructed or prevented from speaking to any staff member(s) during an inspection.
Existing codes and trade associations
For many years, trade associations have played an important role in promoting best practice and in improving operational practice amongst their members. The Code has been developed in collaboration with the trade associations and other members of the profession. It recognises the trade associations' own existing codes of practice, best practice guidance and codes of conduct.